`Cli­mate change is cre­at­ing new spa­ces for pests'

Down to Earth - - SCIENCE -

Dan Bebber of the Univer­sity of Ex­eter, the UK, has pub­lished a

spread­ing glob­ally and in­ad­e­qua­cies in our pre­dic­tion mod­els Is the dis­tri­bu­tion of crop pests and pathogens across the world a se­ri­ous con­cern? Highly vir­u­lent strains are evolv­ing rapidly and th­ese or­gan­isms are de­stroy­ing huge amounts of food. For ex­am­ple, the new Lethal Necro­sis dis­ease, which evolved in Africa, kills maize plants and there is no cure for it. What's driv­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion of the pests? The main driver is hu­man ac­tiv­ity such as trade of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and trans­port of live plants. Some or­gan­isms move by them­selves, such as the wind-borne spores of fungi. Cli­mate change is also making new ar­eas suit­able for cer­tain pests and pathogens. What's wrong with the cur­rent sys­tem of pre­dic­tion of pest move­ment? The most com­mon meth­ods look only at the suit­abil­ity of the cli­mate. They do not take into ac­count the avail­abil­ity of host plants, trade routes, and the evo­lu­tion of pests and pathogens. How can we con­trol the prob­lem? We need bet­ter mon­i­tor­ing and re­port­ing of where pests and pathogens are lo­cated, par­tic­u­larly in the de­vel­op­ing world.

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